Synology DS916+ ...................................................
AN UNINSPIRING BLACK BOX, BUT IT’S CHEAPER THAN MOST FOUR BAY ALTERNATIVES, AND HYBRID RAID ADDS FLEXIBILITY
S ynology’s nimble DS216j is one of our favourite NAS appliances this month, and the DS916+ is built on the same platform – although it features a much beefier quad-core Intel Pentium N3710 processor. This happens to include a fairly capable GPU, but unlike the Asustor and Qnap systems, the DS916+ doesn’t support local video output. The basic unit comes with 2GB of RAM, which can be upgraded to 8GB, so there’s ample headroom for running demanding apps and services.
Like its two-bay counterpart, the DS916+ supports the full complement of networking protocols, including iSCSI and Active Directory. There’s integration with half a dozen popular cloud services, and a good range of backup options; as with the DS216j, you can connect to two IP cameras for free, and there’s a whole host of desktop apps for managing your various network services.
On top of this, the built-in Package Centre oers a huge array of optional apps, including email and web servers, and dozens of business tools and developer frameworks. Given the plentiful resources on hand, it’s a disappointment to see that there’s no virtualisation host. But on the upside, where the two-bay unit lacked the power to transcode video, the DS916+ has no problem, happily streaming all media formats to whatever DLNA, AirPlay and Plex receivers we pointed at it.
Another strength of the DS916+ is that, with four bays, you can take advantage of Synology’s Hybrid RAID (SHR) technology. This allows you to create a pseudo-RAID array from a group of dierently sized disks; data redundancy is maintained, while wasted space is kept to a minimum.
The DS916+ isn’t particularly well connected, oering just two USB 3 connectors at the rear, and none at the front. There is, however, an eSATA connector, via which you can connect a Synology expansion unit such as the five-bay DX513 enclosure. If you want to communicate directly with wireless clients, you can also plug in a USB Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adapter.
Overall, the DS916+ isn’t exactly an inspiring appliance. There’s a decent chunk of computing power here, but with no video output or virtualisation, it’s limited to a conventional NAS role. Still, the hybrid RAID option is of real practical value, making it easy to get started with a hotchpotch of disks, or to upgrade in stages. The price isn’t bad either for the specs, features and performance.